Sport World Rally Team’s Mikko Hirvonen and Elfyn Evans faced a challenging second day of competition at Rally Australia, but both Ford Fiesta RS WRC drivers remain on course for a solid result in fourth and ninth places respectively.
Hirvonen may have lucked out in the intense battle for the lead, but the determined Finn won’t be giving up on a solid finish this weekend. Pleased with his driving through the morning loop, the M-Sport man put in a highly consistent performance but was disadvantaged having taken a competitive risk for the afternoon.
With a high chance of heavy rain predicted in the vicinity of the stages, the number five Fiesta RS WRC was clad with five of Michelin’s LTX Force soft compound tyres. But as the downfall failed to materialise, Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen had to contend with extreme tyre wear for the unexpected dry and dusty conditions.
Thankfully, there are few crews more reliable and acute to the characteristics of this challenging event and the pairing were able to minimise any potential time loss – maintaining a strong 40 second cushion between themselves and their nearest championship rival, Mads Østberg.
It was a dramatic morning for Evans and co-driver Daniel Barritt. The pairing were continuing to monitor their progress – driving without risk and gaining experience – before a stray branch gave them some drama towards the end of Nambucca I (SS9).
The branch pierced the radiator core of his Fiesta RS WRC and the Welshman had to put his mechanical ability to the test as he affected a successful repair on the liaison to the following stage (SS10).
As the M-Sport technicians fitted a new radiator for the second loop, the youngster was eager to make amends. Unfortunately his fate went the same way as team mate Hirvonen and, having opted for five soft compounds, Evans struggled with a lack of grip on the dry stages.
Making it through to fight another day, M-Sport’s protégé remains on course to secure another points finish on his debut at the FIA World Rally Championship’s highest league.
Mikko Hirvonen (4th) said:
Elfyn Evans (9th) said:
Team Principal, Malcolm Wilson OBE, said:
Press: M-Sport World Rally Team